Posted in Uncategorized

How to Conduct A Punjabi Wedding…

In simple words, A Big Fat Indian Wedding described in four ‘D’s- Dance, Drama, DJ and Drinks. But if you are of the opinion that a wedding is just a bride and groom saying the vows, your perfect picture about a wedding is about to get shattered. You see, a Punjabi wedding is a five-day vigorous affair of festivities. It is the most horrible event for the ‘happiest’ day(s) of your life. It is the ultimate test to examine if the bride and groom will stay together forever. If they are together by the end of it then they will be together for rest of it! It tests the family’s event managing capacity. So this article is for those who wish to undertake this endeavour.
Start it on one fine day, a month prior to the beginning of the ‘marriage’ when the two families sit together to set the dates for different rituals. The closer they are the better; if consequently placed, the best! Pause a moment to absorb the enormity of the bonds you are going to make in the next few moments- bonds that will stay forever. After all, your child is going to live with theirs (and vice versa); it’s not like you have a choice. A piece of cost-effective advice: Get the best dance floor, DJ, Drinks and Photographers for EVERY get-together related to the wedding. Get Daler Mehndi in the music, paneer in the food and alcohol in the drinks; I won’t have to repeat these rules again.
Well, the engagement is a huge affair and an important part of your wedding process. Plan your wedding invites and invite everyone! Count your guests and add a hundred more for good measure. You can never have enough guests; in Punjabi weddings they are always more than enough. The event manager must be the costliest and quite renowned in the area; the entire event depends on how much money she makes out of you. After all, class and efficiency comes with its own cost. An early and vital lesson: Wedding is a time to show-off your; you won’t want to deal with Punjabi rumours.
The engagement must be followed by a DJ party. Compulsorily. And as a kind and considerate host that you are, you must have a fleet of drivers who will take your wasted, hyper and giddy guests home. It’s an obligation.
After everyone is rested well the next day, the evening must host a Jagratha; Drama is sure to follow, though with a blessed absence of alcoholic drinks. The DJ must be well-equipped with a range of bhajans in praise of Goddess Durga. You must also be ready for the rare occurrence- live singing of bhajans by the oldest generation of the family. There is always this one fanatic middle-aged fat Punjabi lady who is a great devotee of the Goddess, and will dance like a whirling dervish; keep a bit of space. It goes on the entire night and people keep eating; remember the paneer.
The next ritual depends on which side you are on. If you are on the bride-side, then you have Mehendi. The bride’s arms and feet are tattooed with intricate designs of Henna. Along with the bride, all the ladies and girls get Mehendi too, only in a less grand manner. You must provide the ladies with a platoon of especially-skilled Mehendi-appliers. There must be comfortable seats for everyone, and sufficient space. A music player and a good collection of peppy Bollywood songs are a must. If you are on the groom’s side, then you have Haldi. The groom is applied with a paste of turmeric, cream and milk. Make sure you provide ample amounts of this paste; it is the most important thing (apart from the groom himself). There must be a place provided that can be made dirty; there will be another (un-ritualistic) ritual that will include the groom’s clothes being torn into rags by the groom’s friends. While this is happening, the sisters and nieces must walk barefoot to a nearby well to retrieve water with which the yellow groom will bathe. You must make sure there is a thick cloth that covers the heads of the pot-bearers, or face hot-headed ladies. A person must accompany them with a tumbler of water and spare sandals. The groom, until then must be in a bathroom with hot water! That evening is a bachelor’s night and you must provide all the four D’s.
And now for the final lap of the ‘Wedding’- the reception and the marriage, in that order. Yes, I said that order. This is to solve a simple convenience issue- Punjabi wedding’s sacred timings are around midnight which would make the receptions at 5 in the morning. So, they just have the reception until midnight and then the wedding! Most of the people attend the reception, making it the grandest of all! Even the wedding is simple in comparison. Women spend hours getting ready in the salons and men spend hours choosing drinks. The entire place is ornamented with the costliest and most glitzy decors ever seen. The stage is set in warm and rich velvet with magnificent thrones on which the bride and groom sit. The bride is Beauty in her red, maroon and golden robes while the groom matches her splendour in a white and golden suit. Their smiles dazzle every guest who comes to wish them luck. You also have to arrange the cheesy and typical ‘Groom loves Bride’ cut-outs above their thrones on the stage.
You must have at least a seven course meal with seven different cuisines for every course. And there must be seven dishes for every cuisine. And there must be gifts for literally everyone at the reception. There must be lots of garlands for the ‘Milni’ ritual where the counterparts of both families formally meet each other. A team of photographers must be present everywhere. Be a kind host and hustle the crowd out by the time it is time for the wedding. The Pandit must be ready, the sacrificial fire ready to go, all the items needed to fulfil the obligations must be ready and of course, the bride and groom must be set to undergo marriage. Before this though, the sandals of the groom are stolen and hidden by the sisters of the bride; the groom must give them money for the sandals so that he can wed the bride. Make sure there are many places for the sandals to be! The seven ritualistic rounds are not the end; the after-marriage games are yet to be played. The groom must find his name written in the henna design in his wife’s hands. There must be a bowl of milk and rose petals in which a ring is cast; the bride and groom put their hands in the bowl and try to find the ring. All this is just to give time for the tears to come though. The ‘Bidai’ will happen soon and there will be a Drama overload (the photographers are a must!) which will be followed by the bride and groom leaving the venue. And then, the wedding comes to an end.

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Write about Mumbai…

If you have seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire, you know what Mumbai is like, so be smart and never ever ask your reader to see the movie. Why, what’s the point of spending all those hours reading your book, when a 3 hour visual alternative has been provided? So never ever suggest that alternative. Ever.
Now, make it your aim to demolish the evil picture that movies like Slumdog Millionaire have created in minds of those who even dare to think of Mumbai as a safe place. For this, you should start with the title itself. The ever-green name that Mumbai has been bestowed upon is ‘Bombay’; you could combine this with words like ‘lights’, ‘metropolitan’, ‘British’, ‘island’, ‘bomb-blasts’ or ‘diversity’. You could go with these options or invent something original like ‘The Island of Dreams’.
Once you have established a suitable title for your work, work on your cover page. Assuming that you do want to demolish the evil picture, it would be a good idea to discover your options in the magnanimous side of Mumbai. Naturally, the Taj or Renaissance could feature in there. You could put in Marine Lines i.e. the Queen’s necklace or the Bandra-Worli Sea-link; it’s always a hit with the crowds! You could publish a sepia picture of Victoria Terminus (the now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) or maybe, the Gateway of India. If you want to establish the evil picture then you sure could go on and take highly emotional photographs of naked malnutrition-bodied kids from the slums, or some old man pulling heavy loads on a wooden cart. The world famous Dhobhi Ghat with women and young lads washing clothes would also be quite picturesque. But you know what they say; a balance of extremes is the best deal, right? So maybe you could take a picture of beggars starving outside a temple, or a person smashed by a shining SUV.
You could follow the ‘balance’ rule in your writing as well. You must use an enigmatic tone throughout the book, as if revealing deep secrets that you have come to know after living in Mumbai your entire lifetime. Remember, you are a treasure trove of secrets and scandals waiting to come into the limelight. How you came in confidence of these secrets is a story of no significance what so ever; don’t even hint at it.
You see, the glory of a place comes with its history; never ever forget how the British have done a huge favour to India by building India’s first train station. Remember, never mention how doing this majorly benefitted the British as well (read as, only). What you should elaborate about though, is how grateful Indians and Mumbai citizens are to the British. After all, they would have been lost to the entire world in the sands of time if not for the British. This is what your readers will like to read about, not how self-sufficient Mumbai is, and how it is (quite gloriously) the commercial capital of India.
The readers will be looking forward to details about the tourist spots and tips on warding off the swindling cheats on the streets. So concentrate on that (maybe you can give your personal experience anecdotes). You have to make sure that you don’t deviate from your topic- Mumbai- and make your book a tourist guide instead. To be able to avoid this deviation, your book should include an obvious feature that tourist guides don’t have- humans. Well, it’s quite obvious that you won’t be describing the people but their lives. You must remember to include the ‘balance’ quotient in this aspect of your book.
Describe how the people living in Dharavi (the biggest slum in the world) are thin, dark and suffer from malnutrition. It is a must to describe a scene where a woman is beaten up by her crazy, raging, drunken husband. You could describe in intimate detail about how her body has turned black-and-blue rendering her disabled. You must appreciate her determination though, and tell your readers how she continued to do her household work and took care of her children. Maybe you could make the sight more pitiful by adding the children to the beating scene. You should describe how the children were crying and whimpering in the corner and then themselves got a beating for making even the slightest of noises. The food they eat is burnt and insufficient while the clothes they wear haven’t felt a soap bar for a century. The bare furniture in the house is sold off by the husband for liquor and their neighbourhood has an open gutter overflowing. And yet, these people wake up every day in hope of a new beginning, a new change and a new start.
In contrast to this scene, give a vivid description of the lavish lifestyles of the Bollywood actors and actresses. You should give a description of what Bollywood is; after all not everyone spends their lives studying the lifestyles in Mumbai. Your readers will be extremely interested in the lives of these famous personalities. After all, who cares about the poor people in Dharavi? Bollywood actors and actresses have the entire paparazzi running behind their lives, so why should your readers be any less? Remember, you are a treasure trove of secrets and have special insights about their lives. However, don’t make up stuff with absolutely no proof. If your subject was to read the book, then he could sue you for defamation. You are absolutely free to give juicy insights in their personal lives and political scandals though. After all, that’s what makes them so glamorous and loved by the public.
After covering these absolutely important topics about Mumbai, go on to tell them how Mumbai is a magical place of dreams, hopes and new beginnings; how every person has a shot at being who they want to be and a person is judged according to the hard work he puts in. Describe in your own words, the importance of the existence of a city like Mumbai and what we would miss out (culturally and otherwise) in the world if not for Mumbai.
Before closing the curtains on the magnificent image of Mumbai, remember to compulsorily add a few things about Bal Thackeray and Raj Thackeray. After all, what is Mumbai without their guidance and supremacy?